By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green officials were urged Monday evening to stand up to the pipeline proposed to cross city property north of the community.
City Council was asked to protect water for local residents, show solidarity with those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, and not add to the demise of the planet with more carbon in the air.
But city officials said fighting the pipeline will ultimately cost the city money and do nothing to stop the natural gas line.
Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said Nexus pipeline is seeking an easement across 29 acres of city land located 2.5 to 3 miles east of the water treatment plant.
“We are one of many properties this pipeline is going to go across,” on its way from fracking wells in eastern Ohio, he said to council.
The city’s acreage is currently rented out for farming, and has two Toledo Edison electric easements already on it. The Nexus pipeline would be located adjacent to those easements, O’Connell said.
As the natural gas pipeline continues west, it is proposed to go under the Maumee River, south of Waterville, downriver from Bowling Green’s water intake.
Council member Sandy Rowland asked O’Connell if he has concerns about the pipeline harming Bowling Green’s water. “Is our water going to be safe?” she asked.
O’Connell said he is not concerned since the line will be some distance from the water plant, and downriver from the city’s water intake when is goes under the Maumee River.
“I’m not concerned about water quality issues at the water plant,” he said.
The area where the pipeline is buried will not be farmed for two years. After that, it will go back into crop production, O’Connell said.
“We don’t have any say over where they run the pipeline,” he said of Nexus. The pipeline company has the authority to use eminent domain to get access to land, he said. “They will get the easement one way or another.”
Fighting the natural gas pipeline will only result in the city getting stuck with legal fees, O’Connell said.
Rowland mentioned the rally held in Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon for local residents protesting the pipeline through Native American land in North Dakota. Several of those citizens carried their concerns to council.
One of those was Lisa Kochheiser, who urged council to reject the Nexus easement request.
“Nexus pipeline is not your grandfather’s pipeline,” she said, noting the massive nature of the line and the damage it could cause. The $151,000 that Nexus has offered to pay for the easement will not pay for the damage it could cause, she said.
Kochheiser said Nexus may threaten to use eminent domain, but it doesn’t have that authority yet.
“Once you sign away your right to the land, you don’t get it back,” she said.
She also asked council to consult with a local geologist about a fault line that exists in the area proposed for the pipeline. “Nexus is downplaying that,” she said.
Refusing the easement would show solidarity with Waterville residents who have been protesting a large compressor station planned for the pipeline outside the village. Kochheiser asked council to go one step further, and issue a resolution opposing the pipeline. “Signing the easement shows compliance,” she said.
Laura Sanchez asked if any geological studies or community impact studies had been conducted on the pipeline. “This is our public land,” and therefore deserving of community discussion, she said.
Bowling Green State University environmental science student Matthew Cunningham expressed his concerns about the city’s water. “This pipeline will go within a half a mile of the water treatment plant,” he said. “On behalf of the students of BGSU and future residents of the community, please reconsider the decision you are about to make.”
Vassiliki Leontis asked city officials to explain how it can be building a large solar field, but taking this incompatible action to give the natural gas line an easement. “Is our city under pressure?” she asked. “I personally have trouble explaining.”
Joseph DeMare, a Bowling Green resident who is the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, said the pipeline will send tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
“We must stop putting carbon dioxide into the air,” DeMare said. “We have to stop the carbon. Say no to this easement.”
He asked city council to draw a line in the sand for the pipeline company. “Tell them you will not let them destroy planet Earth.”
Justin Marx, owner of BeerWorks in Bowling Green, asked council why any business would consider coming to BG “when our water is in jeopardy.”
“Are we just going to roll over? Let us not be poor and powerless,” Marx said.
Rowland asked that O’Connell send information to council explaining how the city will benefit from allowing the pipeline an easement.
Council gave the easement ordinance a first reading. Two more are required to enact the ordinance.